Business leaders quit Trump panel; he hits back hard

The manufacturing council exodus was led by Ken Frazier, head of pharmaceutical giant Merck and the council's only African-American member.

The number of manufacturing council members who have quit following US President Donald Trump's remarks about white supremacists has risen to six after a key American labour leader said he was stepping down.

The heads of drugmaker Merck, sports apparel giant Under Armour, tech multinational Intel, the Alliance for American Manufacturing and the largest group of unions in the USA, the AFL-CIO, have all exited Mr Trump's council.

"Merck Pharma is a leader in higher & higher drug prices while at the same time taking jobs out of the US", the president wrote in a tweet Monday afternoon.

Krzanich announced in an Intel blog post that he was leaving the council "to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues, including the serious need to address the decline of American manufacturing".

The resignations followed the president's response to the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white supremacists chanting Nazi, anti-Semitic and other inflammatory slogans clashed with counter protesters.

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk and Walt Disney chief executive Robert Iger quit the Trump administration's strategic and policy forum in June after the President announced the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

As pressure mounted, reports spread that the separate Strategic and Policy Forum was also planning to disband of its own accord after Trump seemingly walked back his belated condemnation of the white supremacist groups who took part in the Charlottesville rally. Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America. Plank did not specifically mention Trump or Charlottesville but said his company will focus on promoting "unity, diversity and inclusion" through sports. He said in a tweet on Monday that the country's leaders must "honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy". Did they not know beforehand that Donald Trump was a racist?

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"Trump can immediately denounce Merck CEO who resigns WH Council but not white supremacists who spew hate & spread terror".

"I am appreciative of the opportunity to have served, but have chose to step down from the council", he said.

"I joined the American Manufacturing Council because I believed it was important for Under Armour to have an active seat at the table and represent our industry", Plank said in the statement.

Johnson & Johnson later clarified that the decision to leave the council had been made before the president's tweet. Four months earlier, Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick and Hint Water chief executive Kara Goldin quit their advisory roles in response to Trump's executive order on immigration.

Thea Lee, an economist and former deputy chief of staff at the AFL-CIO, also resigned from the council.

President Trump's initial failure to condemn white supremacy on Saturday was too much for Kenneth Frazier.

"The AFL-CIO has unequivocally denounced the actions of bigoted domestic terrorists in Charlottesville and called on the president to do the same", Trumka's statement said.

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